At least one of three bridges proposed for Coastal Alabama appears to be on track after two suffered setbacks in the waning days of August.
But an old nemesis to just about any project is slowing progress on the state’s plan to build a span over the Intracoastal Waterway near Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores.
“We are still in the process of acquiring the [Army] Corps of Engineers permit on that project,” Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) Assistant Southwest Engineer Brian Aaron said. “The plans are done, they are ready to go. At this point, it’s just a matter of getting our Corps of Engineers permit and our Coast Guard permits.”
Aaron thought there was an end in sight for the issuance of the permit, but the federal agency came back with more questions instead.
“We were hoping to get it,” Aaron said. “There was some additional information requested after the fact and we had to go back and do a little bit of information gathering for the Corps. But it is in the works at this time. We’re hopeful that we should be getting something from them in the next 30 days.”
Then it goes to the Coast Guard, which in the past has been a little more efficient with its processing than the Corps.
“They typically get 30 days as well on their review,” Aaron said. “We’re in the process of doing a navigational study for the Coast Guard and they will wrap up soon. The good thing is there’s no piers in the water, the bridge is actually higher than the bridges to the east and west of it, so I don’t really anticipate any hurdles there.”
Originally hoping for a bid letting in August, it is now put on hold until the permits are in hand. The next letting for Sept. 27 is out and the only Baldwin work on it are handrail projects for the Styx River Bridge on County Road 87, Hoyle Bryars Road over Interstate 65 and on Scranage Road over Horseneck Creek.
As the delays mount, Aaron said the bid letting for the bridge and the northern part of the project — a road from the Foley Beach Express to County Road 4 — could possibly be in the same month.
“We were trying to get the bridge first, but it’s possible that both of them happen simultaneously,” Aaron said.
There is still some land acquisition going on in the northern section, but Aaron said it’s likely to wrap up soon.
“We have everything ongoing except for one tract that we are trying to get resolved,” Aaron said. “That right of way should be completely finished by the time we get through this Corps process and this Coast Guard process.”
Toll opposition crushed the Mobile River Bridge project, and in Orange Beach, the Wolf Bay Bridge was placed on hold as negotiations broke down between landowner George Barber and the city of Orange Beach.
“There’s no bad faith or ill will with Mr. Barber, it’s just that there’s differencing of opinions on what’s best for each of us,” Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said.
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